Is Cocaine A Controlled Substance?
Cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance, which makes it one of the most highly regulated drugs in the U.S. It was very popular in the 1970s and 1980s, but is still abused today.
Cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance, determined by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This classification means that it is has a high potential to be abused, is likely to cause psychological dependence (addiction), and is dangerous.
Why Is Cocaine A Controlled Substance?
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that is thought to cause mental dependence after just one use. While addiction is marked by changes in the brain that occur over time, the nature of cocaine leads many people to continue taking it after their first use until they become addicted.
Drugs that take effect quickly are more likely to be abused, and cocaine is known for its rapid onset. It is also a short-acting drug. It wears off in less than an hour, causing many people to take repeated doses. Some individuals take cocaine in a binge-and-crash pattern, consuming the drug until they are exhausted, sleeping for days, then binging again.
Cocaine became a controlled substance in the early 1900s, when various reports of negative effects made it clear that the drug was dangerous.
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Is Crack A Controlled Substance?
Yes. Crack is a form of cocaine that is created by mixing the base drug with baking soda or ammonia and heating it to form a rock-like substance. Crack cocaine became popular in the 1980s. Because it is smoked, crack goes directly to the brain for a fast effect, which may make it even more likely to be abused than powdered cocaine.
History Of Cocaine Regulation
In the mid-1800s, Albert Niemann extracted cocaine from the coca leaf and discovered that it numbed his tongue. A few years later, research began to examine cocaine as an anesthetic to be used during medical procedures.
In the late 1800s, individuals like psychiatrist Sigmund Freud discovered that cocaine made them feel better. At the time, it was widely believed that there were no ill-effects or risk of addiction associated with the drug. Freud actually believed that it cured morphine addiction and could help with alcoholism as well. His theory was disproved when a friend died from a cocaine overdose.
Coca-Cola, a drink known for its energizing and refreshing properties, was made from the coca leaf in 1887. Over the next two decades, many people became addicted to cocaine, which led the U.S. government to ban the substance in 1914. It resurfaced as a popular drug of abuse in the 1970s, and while not as common today as opioid drugs, cocaine remains widely abused.
The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 outlined five drug schedules that determined the abuse and addiction potential of many drugs like cocaine. Schedule I drugs are illegal substances that have no approved medical use. Schedule II through Schedule IV are drugs that may be used legally by medical professionals or prescription, but still have abuse potential.
Where Does Illicit Cocaine Come From?
South America is the largest source of cocaine in the world. Most of it comes from Colombia, though significant amounts originate in Bolivia and Peru as well.
Cocaine primarily makes its way through Central America and into the United States through Mexico. There are hub cities across the country that act as distribution points so that cocaine spreads from state to state. Cocaine use may be more highly concentrated in these cities, as more of the drug is available there than in rural areas.
Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to prevent drug trafficking, possession, sale, and manufacturing. It recognized that some of the controlled substances have legitimate medical purposes, but were too dangerous to leave unregulated.
Cocaine may be used in medical settings as a local anesthesia for procedures in the mouth, nose, or throat. However, abusing cocaine comes with criminal consequences.
Consequences Of Abusing Cocaine
It is illegal for someone to buy, sell, or possess cocaine unless they are a medical professional using the drug for an approved medical purpose. Controlled substances are heavily regulated, and a person who violates these laws may face fines and imprisonment.
The punishment for drug trafficking is much more severe than penalty for drug possession. In both cases, the weight of punishment depends on how many previous offenses a person has had. Three-strikes laws determine heavier sentences for individuals who have been arrested for the same offense three times.
Criminal charges for drug possession also depend on the type of drug and how much a person has in their possession. As a Schedule II controlled substance, cocaine possession carries a greater penalty than many other drugs. If a person has more than they could reasonably use themselves, they may be charged with possession with intent to distribute, which is even more serious.
It also depends on the state. Federal laws outline minimum and maximum punishments, but each state has its own rules.
Besides fines and imprisonment, the consequences of abusing cocaine may be:
- suspended driver’s license
- court-mandated addiction treatment
- drug classes (diversion)
- permanent record of arrest
How To Avoid Charges For Cocaine Use
The best way to avoid charges for cocaine use is to avoid using the drug at all. For individuals suffering from cocaine addiction, this is easier said than done. Fortunately, many addiction treatment programs offer personalized care for people who struggle with cocaine use.
Reputable treatment facilities work with individuals to a create treatment plan for their unique situation. Treatment often includes behavioral therapy and coping techniques, which help people recognize and change unhealthy patterns in their lives. It may also include group therapy, in which individuals support each other and work together toward the common goal of recovery.Article Sources
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Cocaine: What is the Crack? A Brief History of the Use of Cocaine as an Anesthetic
Newsweek - Is Cocaine Use On The Rise?
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Scheduling